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River Retreat Garaku was designed by the prominent Japanese architect Hiroshi Naito. When he began working on Garaku, Naito felt that he was designing not just a hotel, but an intimate retreat for the owner, Mr. Yoshinori Ishizaki, to invite his friends. “The relationship”, he says, “between Ishizaki and me is not that between a client and an architect but one between an owner and a collaborator. I made the drawings to express his thoughts”.

As a primary element Naito decided to incorporate the traditional azekura style of Japanese architecture. For more than 1000 years this distinctive “square log” style has been used for buildings like storehouses and granaries. Where azekura characteristically employs joined log structures made of square cyprus timbers, at Garaku these traditional architectural elements become modern art in the form of impressive square ribs of pre-cast concrete, creating a mesmerizing repetitive pattern of light and shadow which soars upwards within the interior spaces.

Another traditional influence on this modern architectural masterpiece is the refined and elegant Japanese sukiya architectural style associated with the tea ceremony which informs the serene interior spaces. Naito also eliminated the typical hand railing around the outside of hotel so that the hotel appears directly connected to the water and river valley, bringing nature into the living spaces.

Hiroshi Naito


Hiroshi Naito was born in 1950 in Yokohama and received his M. Arch from the Graduate School of Waseda University. At Wasada he studied with the famous Japanese architect Takamasa Yoshizaka, who collaborated with Le Corbusier. Naito was the chief architect at Fernand Higueras in Madrid, Spain, and worked at Kikutake Architects in Tokyo before establishing Naito Architect & Associates in 1981. In 2001 he became a professor at The University of Tokyo Graduate School. He served as Executive Vice President of The University of Tokyo until 2011 and has been Emeritus Professor and Senior Advisor to the Office of the President of The University of Tokyo since 2011.


Hiroshi Naito has won numerous architectural awards. His major works include the Sea-Folk Museum (Mie, 1992), Chihiro Art Museum Azumino (Nagano, 1997), Makino Museum of Plants and People (Kochi, 1999), Fuji RINRI Seminar House (Shizuoka, 2001), River Retreat Garaku ANNEX (Toyama, 2002), Shimane Arts Center (Shimane, 2005), Hyugashi Station (Miyazaki, 2008), Kochi Station (Kochi, 2009), TORAYA Kyoto (Kyoto, 2009), and Asahikawa Station (Hokkaido, 2011).



River Retreat Garaku is a showcase for artists who have made a name for themselves in the contemporary Japanese art scene. At Garaku you may be entering a courtyard or a restaurant, walking down a corridor or descending stairs, and find fascinating original art works ingeniously complementing and enhancing the architectural design and interior décor, adding vivid memories to your visit.

Takeshi Fujii
Takeshi Fujii


As his subject, Takeshi Fujii chose the Jinzu River, which feels light and alive with flowing even though the water is rendered in dark color tones. For the artist, the joy of life is brought by water in a mysterious system of Nature in which water continuously circulates to be reborn again as water. The introspective theme is life and death for all living things. Jinzu means “Path of the Gods” and facing the river the painter is staring at the soul of the world asking what our life means in relation to eternal time.


Takeshi Fujii was born in 1952 in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture and lives in Toyama. He graduated from Kansai Gakuin University, majoring in law, and then from Musashino Art University Junior College of Art and Design. Under the Agency for Cultural Affairs he studied with Susumu Miyazaki and was invited in 1994 to exhibit his works by the 28th Contemporary Arts Selection Exhibition of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In 2000 he was invited to exhibit his works by the Vladivostok Biennale Exhibition. In 1982 he won the New Face of Shunyo Group Award, in 1989 he won the Kitaippon Shinbun Art Award, and in 1995 the Nakagawa Kazumasa Award.

Standing Still With Time
Koji Hatakeyama
Koji Hatakeyama

“Standing Still With Time”

As the title of the work suggests, Koji Hatakeyam wants to make you feel the fluctuation of time and space when you stand still facing the garden. He believes that "consciousness dwells in materials and the materials are related with all things". In front of you there is a cluster of stones, which are laid so as to surround the bronze basin within a mossy garden. This might make you think you are in a dilapidated old temple; then you become confused. Your behavior is also a part of the work. So not only looking at the garden, but also touching and sitting on the works, are all welcome.


Koji Hatakeyama was born in 1956 in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, and lives there today. He graduated from the Kanazawa College of Art, majoring in craft and metal casting . His work has been exhibited in Japan, the United States and Europe. In 2000 he won the Takashimaya Art Award from the Takashimaya Cultural Foundation. In 2002 he won the Encouragement Award in the 1st section, at the 3rd Sano Renaissance Metal Casting Exhibition, and in 2007 he won the Grand Prize at the 4th Sano Renaissance Metal Casting Exhibition. In addition to his work as an artist, Koji Hatakeyam is deeply concerned about the environment.

Major museums which have collected his work include:

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, United States
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, England
The Scottish National Gallery, Scotland
The Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland
The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
The Takaoka Art Museum
The Kikuchi Kanjitsu Memorial Museum Mousee Tomo

Wood of Sharp Trees
Tsubusa Kato
Tsubusa Kato

“Wood of Sharp Trees”

For Tsubusa Kato, souls are like raw crystalline trees pushing up toward the sky from the earth. He uses blue white porcelain molded by his bare hands to create the sharp edges of the energy of souls which, like trees, become alive by breaking free.


Tsubusa Kato was born in 1962 in Tajimi, Gifu prefecture. He graduated from the Tajimi City Pottery and Porcelain Design Institution and became an independent artist after first working as a painter of Otai Ceramic. In 1996 he exhibited works in “Expression of Porcelain, Development in ‘90s” at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and in 1999 organized a workshop at the Seoul National University of Technology. In 2002 he exhibited at the “Exhibition of 100-years of Modern Ceramic” at the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu, and in 2003 exhibited at the “World of White porcelain and Blue Porcelain” at the Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum. In 2006 he had a solo exhibition at Dai Ichi Arte in New York and in 2008 a solo exhibition at Garaku.

Major museums which have collected his work include:

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Brooklyn Museum
Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum
The Kyoto Shinbun News Museum
Ishikawa Prefectural Institute for Kutani Pottery
Kikuchi Kanjitsu Memorial Museum Mousee Tomo
Mary &Jackson Park Foundation
Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu

Ryoji Koie
Ryoji Koie


The energy and strength of the Japanese agricultural people is expressed in the courtyard in pottery rice terraces stacked like stairs up a mountainside. Pottery is originally soil, so grass and moss will eventually invade and live together on the sculpture. It is left to the viewer’s mind to determine the meaning of the interaction of the pottery "Green" and surrounding natural green.


Ryoji Koie was born in 1938 in Tokoname in Aichi Prefecture, which is famous for Tokoname Pottery. He lives in Ena, Gifu Prefecture. Upon graduating from Tokoname Prefectural High School, he entered the Tokoname Tounomori Ceramic Lab. After winning the third place in the Asahi Contemporary Ceramics Award in 1962, he aspired to become a ceramic artist. In 1972, he received the International Honorary Award in Vallauris at the International Biennale Exhibition. In 1989, he was appointed an assistant professor at Aichi Prefectural University of the Arts. He has organized workshops overseas in Switzerland and South Korea. In 2001 he won the Oribe Award, in 2006 the Chunichi Cultural Award, and in 2008 he won the Gold Prize from the Japan Ceramic Society.

Major museums which have collected his work include:

“Flat Plate” in The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
“Return to Soil” in The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
“Testimony” in the Yamaguchi Prefectural Art Museum
“Vessel of Climate” in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts
“Return to soil” in the Museum of Modern Art in Argentine

Garaku Gate
Bunpei Matsuda
Bunpei Matsuda

“Garaku Gate”

For Bunpei Matsuda the gate to Garaku should not only function as a physical partition but should also mark a spiritual boundary, much like the traditional torii (gate) of a Shinto shrine which points to an extraordinary world beyond it. The moment you pass the gate, you should feel that the atmosphere has changed between the outside world and the world inside the gate. The artist creates this sense of a mysterious presence on the other side of the gate through the use of a massive block of black granite. The outer surfaces are chiseled to resemble the texture of rough stone, the inner surfaces are smooth. The very air changes as it passes from the rough exterior surfaces to the smooth inner surfaces. As the air and the visitor pass through, the border between the two worlds dissipates, and the distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary disappears. The gate invites you to enter the ordinary/extraordinary world of Garaku.


Bunpei Matsuda was born in Toyama City in 1959. He now lives in Ishioka City, Ibaraki Prefecture. He graduated from Musashino Art University, majoring in painting, and then studied at the Munich National University, where he graduated with a 1st before beginning his career as a stone sculptor. In 1990 he won the Space Formation Toyama Award, 1991 he was invited to Georgia International Stone Sculptor Symposium, and in 1995 he was invited to exhibit in the Kitanippon Art Selection Exhibition. From 1998, he has presented numerous solo exhibitions as well as being invited to group exhibitions including Amabiki Village and Sculpture in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Takuo's Joints
Takuo Nakamura
Takuo Nakamura

“Takuo's Joints”

Joints are seams between stacked stones, bricks or tiles. In collaboration with Garaku’s architect, Hiroshi Naito, Takuo Nakamura places vessels on the PC tiles on the walls of the hall so that the vessels resemble joints. Arabesques, clouds and wave crest patterns, inlaid with gold glazing and silver glazing, are laid over the brown base of the vessels which has been thoroughly baked. These vessels are then cut up to make 5 cm wide joints. For Takuo Nakumara, it is exciting to break his own work up for the joints in order to achieve a new perspective on the use of vessels.


Takuo Nakamura was born in Kanazawa in 1945, where he lives today. He started his career working under his father, the second Baizan Nakamura. In 1984 he went to Italy to study under Aldo Rontini. In 2001 his work, “Mizusashi” (Pitcher) was placed in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of New York. In 2002 the 21th Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa purchased his work for the permanent collection. In 2004 he produced the “Japanesque Series” in the collaboration with the famous Irish fine china and porcelain company Wedgwood. Many of the pieces in the series are decorated with inlaid gold glazing and silver glazing against a brownish red base in the style of the 17th century Rimpa School of Japanese painting. In 2006 he exhibited in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial.


Pillar of Light
Yuichi Noda
Yuichi Noda

“Pillar of Light”

Light, passing through the transparent material of glass, expresses the day and night of the ever-changing universe. The prism of water gives the color to light as rainbows in the daytime and auroras at night. Water is born in the earth and, stored underground, it spouts from the surface in a pillar of light, becoming part of the dynamism of life and reflecting the mysterious universe for us to see. Glass is like water. It is located in the boundary between light and shadow, making us aware of the light and shadow which we do not see with our unaided eye.


Yuichi was born in Koyadaira in Tokushima Prefecture. He lives in Toyama City. He entered Tokushima University, and finished the private school of Setouchi Jyakucho,”Jyakucho School” as the 1st graduate. He then graduated from the Tokyo Glass Art Institute. After working as a lecturer at the Toyama Citizen’s College, he became an assistant professor and then professor at the Toyama City Institute of Glass Art. The video art he produced in the collaboration with Satoko Kisaki, who is a writer from Takaoka City, received the Akutagawa Award. He also created the prize “Space Egg” for the Honorary Citizen Prize to Koichi Tanaka, who is a Novel Prize winner from Toyama City. His work “A Man Chasing the Rainbow” is on display in the Toyama City General Gymnasium, “∞ (Infinite) Inside and Outside” is in the Arakawa Green Park, and “Fantasy in Memory” is displayed Aubade Concert Hall, Toyama. In 2001 he was awarded the Kitanippon Shinbun Cultural Award for Fine Arts, and in 2004 and again in 2005 he was awarded the Grand Prize of Kitanippon Grand Award Art Exhibition. In 2007 he was honored with the ENKU Award of 4th ENKU GRAND AWARD Exhibition.

‘Time’ dug out -24-2005
Machiko Ogawa
Machiko Ogawa

“ ‘Time’ dug out -24-2005”

24 sheets of benigara color ceramic plates are arranged in an orderly manner along a wall of the same color. On the plates are drawings of a variety of fossils, each telling us a story of primitive life. Nearby at the entrance of a special room of the restaurant, two earthen vessels in the shape of a cylinder are buried in the soil. The author appears to be attempting to embody eternal time connecting the earth and the contemporary vessels, drawing us into the world of meditation.


Machiko Ogawa was born in 1946 in Sapporo and lives in Yugawara-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture. She graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, majoring in craft. In 1970, she learned pottery in Paris at the L'Ecole de Metiers Dahl. From 1972-1976, she learned pottery in West African countries. In her works, she takes advantages of cracks, chips, and the drips of glazes, which are usually seen as negative in conventional pottery, giving her work unusual character. She organized her first solo exhibition in Mejiro, Tokyo in 1985. In 2010 she had a solo exhibition at the "Aallso Gallery” in Ginza. She also exhibited at "Tea in the Modern Age, Freedom of Modeling" in the Kikuchi Kanjitsu Memorial Musee Tomo in Toranomon, Tokyo. In 2001 she won the Japan Ceramic Society Award, in 2007 she won the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts for Craft. Her works in major museums include “2002-WA-BLUE” in the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, “96-S-I ~ V” in the Suntory Museum of Art, and “90U” in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Kyubey Kiyomizu
Kyubey Kiyomizu


Kyubey Kiyomizu created this work around the same time River Retreat Garaku opened in May 2000. The red color beckons the visitor to Garaku and stirs expectations of a special visit in this private place away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Biography (1922 – 2006)

Kyubey Kiyomizu was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1922, and graduated from Nagoya Industrial High School (now the Nagoya Institute of Technology), majoring in architecture. In 1953 he graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts, majoring in metal casting. In 1963 he became an assistant professor at the Kyoto City University of Arts, and then a professor in 1968. From 1969 to 1970 he resided and worked in Italy. In 1974 he received the Kobe City Board of Education Award at the 4th Suma Rikyu Park Modern Sculpture Exhibition. Since then, he received numerous awards, including the 17th Mainichi Arts Award in 1976 and the Excellence Award at the Henry Moore Grand Prize Exhibition in 1979. In 1988 he organized the outdoors sculpture exhibition of the Seoul Olympics. In 1990 he received the Purple Ribbon Medal. In 2006 he passed away.

Major Awards

1974 4th Suma Rikyu Park Modern Sculpture Exhibition, the Kobe City Board of Education Award
1975 6th Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Sculpture, Mainichi Newspaper Award and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Award
1975 Excellent Award of the 6th Nakahara Teijiro Prize
1976 The 17th Mainichi Arts Award
1977 The 3rd Haokone Open-Air Museum Grand Prize
1977 The Museum of Modern Art Gunma Award, 6th Contemporary Sculptor Exhibition
1979 Excellence Award, the 1st Henry Moore Grand Prize Exhibition
1980 Grand Prize, the 7th Suma Rikyu Park Modern Sculpture Exhibition
1985 The 10th Isoya Yoshida Award
1988 Award for Cultural Distinguished Service by Kyoto Prefecture
1990 The Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon

Major museums and collections which have included his work:

“AFFINITY.D” Kobe Municipal Rokkosan Pasture
“Mask A” The Street of Flowers and Sculptors
“AFFINITY.L” Kobe Municipal Arboretum
“Kyo Space C” Kanazawa College of Art
“Talk with” Shimane Art Museum
“Coexistence” The Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo

Koichi Uchida
Koichi Uchida


Composed of a huge sphere, an L-shaped pillar protruding from the wall, and nine ceramic plates decorating the wall, this work creates a dignified space producing a sense of deep tranquility in the viewer. The work is minimalist yet it projects an unwavering presence. The texture of iron rust is achieved with a glaze, the colors are simple, and while the structure is non-organic it leaves an impression of being warm and moist inside. The angle of the pillars and rectangular ceramic plates are among the simplest artificial forms and the sphere is a primitive natural form. Juxtaposed in the same space, these opposing forms embody the quiet force of life.


Koichi Uchida was born in Nagoya and majored in ceramics at the Aichi Prefectural Seto Ceramics High School. After graduation he traveled extensively in South Korea, Southeast Asia, India, West Africa, and Europe, staying in various pottery villages and learning pottery techniques. In 1992 at the age of 23 he became an independent artist. He has exhibited his works in Japan and abroad, including “Enjoy vessels - crafts living in life" at the Crafts Gallery of the National Museum of Modern Art in 2000. In 2003, he had an exhibition of "UCHIDA KOUICHI" in the Paramita Museum in Mie Prefecture Exhibition. At Garaku, he has held solo exhibitions at the museum in 2004 and at the tea room in 2010.

Museum collections

“coexistence.It t ies” in the Paramita Museum, Mie
”Path of the Crocks” in the Paramita Museum, Mie